x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Safety audit under way for 4,500km of highways

The Department of Transport says it will check each road in Abu Dhabi twice, looking for dangerous conditions that compromise driver safety.

More than 4,500km of roads in Abu Dhabi will be audited in a bid to improve safety.
More than 4,500km of roads in Abu Dhabi will be audited in a bid to improve safety.

ABU DHABI // A two-man team armed with a camcorder and a GPS device took to Abu Dhabi's roads yesterday, beginning a three-week audit of infrastructure designed to make the emirate's roads safer. "Transition" roads from the Maqta and Musaffah bridges up to the E11 were the first targets of the audit, which will cover all major roads off the island of Abu Dhabi.

More than 4,500km of roads will be checked during the process, said the Department of Transport, which is undertaking the audit. Work should be completed by November 5. Auditors are on the lookout for road design features and other conditions that create the potential for crashes or that might make accidents more severe. Each road will be checked twice, once during the day and once at night, to ensure issues are noted in different driving conditions.

"We are looking at things that might compromise driver safety," said Jamie Castle, a senior consultant with the Transport Research Laboratory, a London-based company working for the department on the project. Problem areas will be taped and the location's co-ordinates marked for further assessment. Issues being checked include roadside safety, the visibility of signs and pavement markings, the alignment of roads, traffic-calming measures, access to and from the highway network, and the merging of traffic, said Faisal Ahmed al Suwaidi, the general director of highways at the department.

"We hope that the audits will identify as many engineering deficiencies in the network as possible," Mr al Suwaidi said in an e-mail. "The [road safety audit] recommendations will be forwarded to DoT's maintenance teams for implementations. "The safety recommendations that are high risk but include minimal remedial efforts will be the first to be implemented. Then, and gradually, the other recommendations will be implemented."

Recommendations will be presented to the department, along with an evaluation of risks and the cost and time it will take to fix problems. "The DoT will implement all recommendations that are proven to save lives or reduce the severity of injuries," Mr al Suwaidi said. Audits will continue along the E-series of highways inside the emirate. A team of experts is also developing a set of road safety audit guidelines for the emirate.

This year, full audits were undertaken on the E22, connecting Abu Dhabi to Al Ain, and the E30, the lorry road running between these locations. Recommendations coming out of that, including trimming vegetation that obscured road signs and repairing crash barriers, are being implemented by the department's contractors. mchung@thenational.ae